ADI: $83B In Online Sales During Holidays, Fueled By Mobile Phones

Consumers spent $83 billion online during the 2015 holiday season, 12.7% more than they spent in 2014, according to data from Adobe Digital Index (ADI).

What’s more, there were 31 days of at least $1 billion in online sales between Nov. 22 and Dec. 22--a drastic increase in billion-dollar days over years past. Also, the biggest growth year over year (YoY) in online sales, according to ADI, occurred the week before Christmas.

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“We originally predicted 11% growth year over year. What we found is that, throughout most of the season, growth was actually slightly lower than 11%,” said Tyler White, an analyst at ADI. “It wasn’t until the very end of the season that we saw a significant surge in sales, which drove the 12.7% year-over-year growth. Phone traffic exceeding desktop traffic some days was one of the drivers of that growth.”

In the past, White explained, the digital marketing industry has considered mobile traffic to be a combination of phone and tablet traffic. But during the 2015 holiday season, there were days when phone traffic alone exceeded desktop.

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Overall, of course, desktop won with 50% of traffic. But phones were not too far behind, comprising 39% of visits and 17% of sales during holiday 2015, which is more than the share of sales and traffic driven by tablets.

While, overall, more sales and traffic came from iOS than Android devices, the one place where Android exceeded iOS was in average order value on tablets. Spend was $132 per visit for Android users and $114 for iPad users.

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Another driver of growth, especially during the week before Christmas, was the “buy online, pick up in-store” option offered by so many retailers. Traditionally, the week before Christmas was never a big online shopping week because people weren’t confident that shipped items would arrive in time. With the pickup in-store feature, that worry was alleviated.

“During the last couple of years, there was a lot of talk about retailers trying to spread out the holiday season,” White said. “This year, they really weren’t able to get the buying started that much earlier, but they were able to keep it going longer into the Christmas week.”

ADI also looked into the marketing channels that drove the most traffic and sales to retail sites.       

E-mail and display advertising saw a lot of momentum during the holidays. Affiliate and search traffic were the biggest marketing channels during the holiday season, but were down YoY. Retail’s share of traffic coming from social also declined YoY, and it was the smallest marketing channel, indicating that social is becoming more of an awareness-driving tool.

“People aren’t interested in buying something while they're checking out their friends' news, but they do become aware of things that they might check out later on and actually purchase,” White explained.

Click here to view the full report on SlideShare.

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